NT Treasurer Nicole Manison has said net government debt is projected to hit more than $8 billion by the end of this financial year, $1.35 billion more than the November forecast, and two years before expected.
But she offered no actual figures of how the 2019-20 financial year ended, stating those would come after the election.
Ms Manison fronted a press conference with Chief Minister Michael Gunner to deliver what they called the “COVID-19 Financial Report” on the day before they go into caretaker mode.
The Gunner Government had previously refused to provide it’s finances before the election, stating it could not due to the delayed Federal budget and GST uncertainty but caved to the pressure at the end of May, saying it would provide some sort of a financial forecast for the 2020-21 financial year.
The NT Independent understands what was released Wednesday is not a proper financial outlook, which did not include the detailed financials found in a proper fiscal report. The “COVID-19 Financial Report” stated that the real 2019-20 outcome report with estimates for that financial year will be published in “mid-August”, with the actual financials not reported until October.
That means the figures released today could in fact be worse by next month.
Ms Manison told the press conference Treasury estimated net debt would be $8.2 billion at the end of the financial year and there would be a GST reduction of $649 million over two financial years – $41 million in the last financial year and $608 million for 2020/21.
In a media release that followed the press conference, Ms Manison said the deficit for the 2020-21 financial year was expected to be $1.28 billion more than previously forecast in November’s 2019-20 Mid-Year Report. In that report the forecast deficit was $1.5 billion, making the estimated deficit now about $2.78 billion.
In that pre-pandemic statement she said net debt for 2020-21 was expected to be $1.35 billion more than previously forecast in the report which projected it to be $6.8 billion. The total of that would be $8.24 billion.
The November report also said the net debt was expected to be $5.9 billion at the end of the last financial year, $6.3 billion in 2020-21, $7.7 billion in 2021-22 and $8.3 billion by the end of 2022-23.
According to the Treasurer’s quarterly financial statement to the end of March, for the first nine months of the year, the net debt was listed at $5.5 billion,
Ms Manison said today’s “COVID-19 Financial Report” showed that before the pandemic there was an improvement of $150 million to the Territory’s projected net debt level and a $79 million improvement on the deficit level when compared with the November report.
She said since March, the government has spent $382 million on COVID-19 stimulus spending which was lower than the $408 million they had originally estimated. Ms Manison said this was due to a lower than expected loss in revenue due to businesses being able to open earlier than expected.
The cumulative reduction in estimated GST revenue since the 2015-16 Territory Budget amounted to $3.1 billion, she said.
The actual 2020-21 Budget is not expected to be public until November 10.